Impact of the working time directive on collective bargaining in the road transport sector — Estonia

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 18 Δεκέμβριος 2007



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The Estonian road transport sector has about 18,000 mobile employees. Majority of them (85%) are truck drivers and 15% bus drivers. Estonia has implemented the working time directive in the Traffic Act in 2005. The regulations in working and rest time legislation are valid on all drivers, including self-employed persons and trans-boarder drivers.

Background

Working time for mobile workers in the road transport sector is covered by Directive on working time in the road transport sector

(Directive 2002/15/EC)

This Directive establishes minimum requirements in relation to the organisation of working time in order to improve the health and safety protection of persons performing mobile road transport activities and to improve road safety and align conditions of competition.. Member states were requested to implement this Directive by 23 March 2005. However, some countries have yet to transpose it.

The Directive provides a definition of the types of activities that should be included in the calculation of working time. These are: driving; loading and unloading; assisting passengers boarding and disembarking from the vehicle; cleaning and technical maintenance; and all other work intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle. It also covers the times during which a worker cannot dispose freely of their time and are required to be at their workstation. The Directive also regulates maximum weekly working time, breaks, rest periods and night work.

Unlike the working time Directive, the Directive governing working time in road transport does not allow any opt-out. This means that companies operating in this sector need to ensure that the working time of their workforce complies with the Directive. However, under Article 8 of the Directive, derogations can be made from the provisions on maximum working time and night work, for objective or techncial reasons or reasons concerning the organisation of work, through collective agreements, agreements between the social partners, or by laws, regulations or administrative provisions, provided there is consultation of the representatives of the employers and workers concerned and efforts are made to encourage all relevant forms of social dialogue.

At present, the Directive does not apply to self-employed drivers. As it states, the European Commission will undertake a review of the situation after four years of operation. Therefore, at the latest by 23 March 2007, the European Commission will issue a report to the European Parliament and the Council analysing the consequences of the exclusion of self-employed drivers in areas such as road safety, conditions of competition, the structure of the profession and a range of social aspects. On the basis of this report, the Commission will then decide whether or not to apply the Directive to self-employed drivers from 23 March 2009.

The study

The purpose of this study is to assess the impact that Directive 2002/15/EC has had on collective bargaining in this sector in individual EU countries.

This study will examine collective bargaining and the regulation of working time in the road transport sector in individual European countries, looking at issues such as the organisation of working time, breaks, rest periods, working hours, health and safety, and the status of self-employed drivers. It will also look at whether member states have taken advantage of the derogation options, contained in the Directive, in the case of maximum working time and night work.

1. Details of the road transport sector in your country

Please provide some basic details about the road transport sector in your country. Information should include:

  • the structure of the mobile workforce in the sector, including size, type of employee, proportion of self-employed workers (see also below)

According to the comments of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (Majandus- ja Kommunikatsiooniministeerium, MKM), there are about 15,000 vehicles registered for the road transport and their estimation on the mobile workforce is 18,000 persons in road transport sector. According to MKM about 85% (15,400 persons) of the sector employees are truck drivers and about 15% (2,600 persons) are bus drivers. There are 345 self-employed persons registered in road transport. 62 of them are engaged in international and 283 in domestic transport.

Some additional figures for the transport sector by Statistics Estonia (Statistikaamet) are presented in the table below.

Table 1. Transport sector in figures in 2004
Number and characteristics of the road transport sector in 2004
 

Other land transport (NACE…/EMTAK 60.2)

… other scheduled passenger land transport (NACE/EMTAK 60.21, 60.22, 60.23)

…freight transport by road (NACE/EMTAK 60.24)

Average number of employees

15,250

6,272

8,978

… of which part-time workers

830

323

508

Source: Statistics Estonia

  • the types of employers operating in the sector

Employers in road transport sector are divided between two domains: carriage of goods and passengers. According to the Statistics Estonia in 2004 there were 1,894 enterprises engaged in land transport (EMTAK 60.2). 228 of them are engaged in land passengers transport and 1,666 in freight transport by road. Some additional figures are presented in table 3 below.

Table 3. Number of enterprises according to size
Number of enterprises by size in 2006. Figures are presented as an average of the first three quarters of 2006.

Size (number of employees)

Average number of enterprises

All

1,695

1-9

1,320

10-19

216

20-49

109

50-99

31

100 and more

21

Source: Statistics Estonia

2. Collective bargaining in the road transport sector

Please provide information on collective bargaining in your sector, including:

  • details of the social partners in this sector – trade unions and employer bodies, name, field of intervention (all the sector/specific part of the sector// all the workers in the sector/ part of them…)

Estonian Transport and Road Workers’ Trade Union (Eesti Transpordi- ja Teetöötajate Ametiühing, ETTA) is a union for all people working in transport, road building or travel agencies. ETTA has members at approximately 170 enterprises in Estonia and has about 5,000 members. ETTA involves unions and employees from all parts of the road transport sector.

Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises (Autoettevõtete Liit) is an employer body incorporating land carriers and other enterprises providing transport services (involving the entire road transport sector). The members are divided into three sections: carriage of goods, carriage by bus and taxi service. At present there are 36 enterprises registered as members of the union.

Association of Estonian International Road Carriers (Eesti Rahvusvaheliste Autovedajate Assotsiatsioon, ERAA) is a union of enterprises involved with international road transport (involving specific part of the sector- carriage of goods). In February 2007 ERAA had 444 members and candidate members.

  • whether there are collective agreements.

If so, could you specify whether it is a sectoral one or whether there are agreements that are signed in significant companies. what proportion of the sector do they cover?

If there are agreements, how often are they renewed. What are the subjects covered : definition of working time

  • working hours
  • breaks
  • rest periods
  • controls and checks on drivers

A sectoral collective agreement is signed between the Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises and the ETTA. It is one of the two collective agreements extended at sectoral level in Estonia. The agreement covers all employers and employees engaged in domestic carriage of passengers and goods and international carriage of passengers. The sectoral level agreements are usually two-year agreements. The recent collective agreement, concluded on 1 April 2005 was valid until 31 March 2007; the previous one was concluded for the period 2003-2004. Negotiations have started over a new sectoral level agreement, but an agreement has not yet been reached. According to the ETTA, an agreement satisfying to all the parties involved will be quite difficult to reach. It is highly probable that negotiations will not end before December 2007.

The collective agreement covers the following subjects:

  • working time (including periods of availability),
  • rest periods (including breaks),
  • wages,
  • provisions of employment contracts,
  • occupational health and safety,
  • training,
  • social guarantees and relations between employer and trade union.

Working time in the collective agreement is defined as the period when the worker is present at the workstation at the disposal of employer and exercising his functions or activities and during which he cannot dispose freely of his time. The definition of working time includes working hours, rest periods during the working shift (excluding lunch breaks) and controls and checks on drivers.

Breaks between shifts and standby duty at home (period during witch the worker must be available to answer any calls to go on duty) are not included into working time.

3. Implementation of the Directive 2002/15/EC in your country

Has your country implemented this Directive?

a) If so, please give details of the implementing legislation or collective agreement, and when it came into force.

According to the State Chancellery (Riigikantselei) which coordinates European affairs in Estonia, the Directive 2002/15/EC has been transposed through the Traffic Act in 2005. The previous Traffic Act was complemented with a separate chapter on the working and rest time of drivers. Some of the most important changes in the legislation include: sanctions in case the rest time regulations are violated, the definition of working time, maximum working hours and derogations, definition of night work as defined in the Directive and the status of self-employed persons in the Traffic Act. In cases that are not defined by the Directive, other national legislations on working and rest time are used (for example the Working and Rest Time Act).

Also some provisions of the Directive are reflected in the sector collective agreement referred to in the section 2. Namely the collective agreement specifies the definition of working time, periods of availability, rest time and maximum working hours. It also presents the standard for working time in 2005-2007 for each year considering all the national holidays and maximum working hours.

If not, please give details of any debate about implementation, plus any likely implementation date.

b) If your country has implemented the Directive, has implementation been effected by means of specific terms in collective agreements or brought new topics onto the collective bargaining agenda in areas such as health and safety, the organisation of working time, working hours and working conditions or onto these areas in general?

According to the Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises there are no new topics on the agenda that are derived specially from the Directive.

c) The Directive allows for derogations to be made from the provisions on maximum working time and night work, for objective or technical reasons or reasons concerning the organisation of work, through “collective agreements, agreements between the social partners, or by laws, regulations or administrative provisions, provided there is consultation of the representatives of the employers and workers concerned and efforts are made to encourage all relevant forms of social dialogue”.Maximum working time

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working week of 48 hours, extendable to 60 hours if the average of 48 hours a week is not exceeded over four months? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

According to the Traffic Act the average weekly working time can not exceed 48 hours (including overtime). Weekly working time is extendable to 60 hours if the average of 48 hours per week is not exceeded over four months. The working time can be extended to 60 hours and the average of 48 hours a week can not be exceed during six months if this is enact in the respective extended collective agreement or has a written consent from the Labour Inspectorate (Tööinspektsioon). The extension of working time has to be connected to the peculiarities of working process and it requires a written consent between the parties of the employment contract.

In addition to national standard working time the Working and Rest Time Act also provides regulations for overtime. Namely maximum of four hours overtime per day is allowed. Duration of one shift including overtime can not exceed 12 hours.

According to the sector collective agreement working and rest time is set with internal regulations of each enterprise and standard for working time provided in the agreement. According to the standard, working week is 40 hours and shifts can be from 6 to 12 hours long. Driving time during a shift can not be longer than 10 hours.

Night work

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working day of 10 hours in a 24-hour period if night work is performed? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

According to the Traffic Act if a driver works between 00.00 and 07.00 over a period of four hours, working time can not exceed 10 hours in a 24-hour period.

Sector collective agreement provides no provisions on night work.

4. Specific issues

a) What are the main problems in this sector in your country?

According to the Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises the main problem is the schooling of drivers and employees in logistics.

MKM has stated that the main problem is the lack of attention on working conditions and the use of rest time. However, since many enterprises have exchanged old vehicles to new ones, the working conditions in larger enterprises have improved considerably over the past years. In case of self-employed persons the working conditions are still below any standards. The focus in collective bargaining is mainly on wages.

MKM has also referred to the problem that all drivers (whether or not self-employed) have to prove their working time in the period of previous 15 to 21 days (from 2008 28 days) if they are controlled by police or Labour Inspectorate. It is not possible to control the working time before that period. Therefore it can only be expected that the drivers have not worked voluntarily overtime as there is not possibility to control it.

Are there requests from interested parties (employees, trade unions, employer bodies, the government) about regulation on any of the following:

  • health and safety
  • working conditions
  • long working hours
  • controls and checks on drivers

The Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises has made proposals to MKM on the controls and checks on drivers. ETTA has also addressed the problem by arranging annual checks on drivers on Estonian main roads in cooperation with the police and the Labour Inspectorate. They also inform the drivers on the working and rest time regulations valid in Estonia and convince them to abandon too much overtime work. ETTA has also requested the police and Labour Inspectorate to arrange controls and checks on drivers more frequently. In addition to domestic drivers they have also referred to the need to check trans-boarder drivers more frequently as well.

In the sectoral collective agreement some of the issues referred to above are addressed: health and safety, long working hours. As referred above, the working conditions of drivers are a problem in Estonia.

b) Self-employed drivers

Please give details of the kind of debate that is being held in your country on this issue. For example, what are the views of the government and the social partners on whether or not self-employed drivers should be covered by national implementing legislation.

Self-employed drivers are covered by national legislation since self-employed persons are drivers and the working, driving and rest regulations referred to in the Traffic Act are extended on all drivers.

c) Trans-border drivers

Are trans-border drivers concerned by your country regulation in the road transport sector? If so, please specify how. For example, which jurisdiction covers drivers who cross your country on their way to other countries? Is this an issue for debate in your country?

All drivers are regulated with the same regulations. There are no specific regulations concerning trans-border drivers. The debate is not an issue.

d) Other issues

Are there any other issues of importance in your country that have not been covered above?

MKM has referred that in case the regulations are violated, only drivers are sanctioned. The parties that provoked or forced the violations are rarely sanctioned since they are often unidentified by the police. According to MKM this practice should be changed in order to protect the drivers’ rights.

5. Views of the national centre

It is particularly important that each NC gives its own comments on the issues covered by this study. Please provide any additional information that you consider important to better understand the current situation and recent developments in the area of working time in your country’s road transport sector.

There is no comprehensive overview in Estonia about the working conditions of the mobile workforce. In order to fulfil current questionnaire we contacted all parties directly and asked their opinion on the issue. We got answers from all parties except ETTA.

As the answers to the questions, legislative developments and actions taken during last years indicate, the working time in road transport sector has been considered important. The steps were taken in order to guarantee adequate working conditions for mobile workforce. However, there is no sufficient overview on the implementation of the working time regulations currently.

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